Removable media: Convenient portable data storage or IT threat?

Trusted employees, on-site vendors and welcomed guests pose unique security concerns considering how easy it is to plug a portable storage device into a workstation, server, or laptop that has not been appropriately secured. Compounding this problem is the technological advancements seen in storage in recent years. USB drives are compact, high-speed, and can store multiple gigabytes of information. In the wrong hands and with the right opportunity, your data’s security is at risk. Consider these trusted individuals bringing infected files into the workplace for legitimate purposes. In these situations, even the best threat detection solutions are circumvented further putting the organization at great risk.
USB drive threatsThis month, visitors downloading the NetWrix USB Blocker were asked to define the biggest threat to their organization. The results are shocking. Even though removable media has been a known threat for years, nearly half of those polled worry that portable storage devices can house crippling viruses. Nearly one-third of those responding are concerned that confidential information is at risk of being silently lifted from the building. Both scenarios are enough to keep even the most hardened and skilled security professional awake at night. The reasons are obvious. Physical access, large storage capacity and ease of use means a $10 USB drive can infect your network with a virus and steal a year’s worth of financial data and employee information within minutes and in all likelihood, this activity would appear perfectly normal. Even those organizations with a strong written policy on removable storage use are no less at risk of infections and data theft. The 23.6% of these respondents clearly acknowledge a written policy is only as good as it is enforceable.

NetWrix recognizes these needs for protecting against the threats of removable media offering the USB Blocker. This product stops all USB port access on desired machines thus preventing infections and theft. By using Group Policy for centralized deployment means it can be implemented quickly and easily. The best feature the NetWrix USB Blocker has to offer is that is entirely, 100% free.

What measures have you taken recently to protect against physical threats to your network? Does your organization have a written policy on removable media such as iPods, USB drives and removable hard disks? Please share your thoughts and experiences with other such applications and policies below:

Chris is a former Senior Director of Product Management at Netwrix. He has been involved in various technology roles from desktop support to network management and technical training to sales and product management for more than 20 years. Happilly married, father of two, writer, singer/songwriter, runner and all-around curious explorer of life and all that it has to offer.